LONDON (AFP) - Oil prices climbed on Wednesday as traders awaited the latest official reading on energy inventories in the United States, the worlds biggest consumer. New Yorks main futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February, gained 33 cents to 74.73 dollars a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for February won 18 cents to 73.64 dollars in London midday trading. Analysts are predicting the weekly US inventory data published on Wednesday to point to increased demand for energy. They expect the Department of Energy to report that US crude stockpiles fell by 1.1 million barrels last week, while distillate inventories are forecast to have dropped by 1.6 million barrels, according to Dow Jones newswires. Data for distillates, which include heating oil, are being closely tracked as winter starts to bite in the United States and Europe. Myrto Sokou, an analyst at Sucden Financial Research, said confirmation of a drop in inventories could drive crude oil prices even higher to test the 76.38 technical level. Crude futures had already risen on Tuesday as traders bet on improving demand after OPEC decided against changing the cartels official crude output levels. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries held its crude output quotas unchanged at its meeting in Angola Tuesday, warning of lingering weakness in the world economy. Tuesdays meeting capped a year of recovery for oil prices, which have more than doubled since the cartel set strict quota cuts in the depths of the economic crisis a year ago. OPEC had last week slightly upgraded its forecast for world oil demand growth next year but said usage in advanced economies would contract again. Several OPEC ministers have said the current price of oil which has been hovering around 75 dollars a barrel is comfortable for its 12 members. In January the cartel enforced total OPEC cuts of 4.2 million barrels a day, which helped prices recover from around 32 dollars one year ago.